My family moved to Southern California in October of 2003. I grew up in Kennett and moving to the west coast was quiet a culture shock. We have lived in many places, Memphis, Nashville, Tampa then back for 9 years in Kennett. The decision to move to California was mostly to enhance our children's swimming.
After the moving van packing up all our belongs, we left Kennett for the trip west. Now that I think back, we must have looked something like the Beverly Hillbillies 2003 style. SUV packed, two kids and an 80 pound black lab! As the custom is in our family, we had to get somewhere as fast as possible, stopping along the way is a waste of time!!! (I guess it's a man thing) As we were traveling down interstate 15 from the Majave desert into the Inland Empire, we discovered the mountain was on fire. It was a horrifying experience. I remember looking at my husband David, and saying, " YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME". He assured me that the fire was a long way from our new hometown of Claremont and I had nothing to worry about. Needless to say, later the next night, we were awaken by sirens, screams and as I looked out the balcony window, I saw the fire totally consuming the San Gabriel Mountains. A fire in the mountains appear to be closer, giving the impression that death is impending! Again, I was frightened and again my husband reassured me that it was miles away!
The next day the sky was orange, it was filled with ashes falling just like snow would falls from the sky. Breathing was difficult, school was canceled, the news recommended that those who could, stay indoors. I honestly was in a state of shock and wished to be back safe in the bootheel. I wondered if the world was coming to an end!!
Within a few days, the rains settled in which was a relief. It rained and rained and rained until those bare mountains begin to get soaked and then came the mud slides. Again, terror hit southern California. Houses came down mountains, mud blocked roads made traveling difficult, it was crazy again. I could not believe I had come to such a scary place, my parents back in the bootheel were sure that my husband was NUTS!
Next trauma was watching the local news a few nights later. The LA TV stations love to send out news helicopters to chase the LA PD copters…….all live on TV… Needless again to say, we were watching a police chase that turned out to be in our neighbor hood. I remember walking outside to look up in the sky when our neighbor yelled across the street to "get back in the house" , You could get shot!!!!
I survived the first couple weeks and am still living in Southern California. Crazy? Yes. But life was certainly interesting and now 4 years later, I am not really affected by these discerning events. We have yet to experience earthquakes and I'm very thankful. That just might be the straw that breaks the "Hine" back and sends me running for the bootheel. I miss the heartland where folks are friendly, life is simple and things seem to be more quiet. Where neighbors are childhood friends and everyone is connected in one way or the another. One day I hope to return, but for now…. Its living in the fast lane, literally at times on the PCH.